Whitewater City Council tables decision on flying U.N. flag outside City Hall

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Andrea Anderson
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WHITEWATER—Betty Refior's late husband, Everett, wrote a lot of letters to newspapers.

Now, Betty is leaning on Everett's letters to support her mission in having Whitewater display the United Nations flag outside City Hall.

“There has been endless puzzlement over the reason for the Whitewater City Council's delinquency in executing its October 19, 1971, resolution, Betty told the city council Tuesday night.

On October 19, 1971, the city council declared, effective October 24, 1971, that it would fly the U.N. flag alongside the United States flag “as a symbol of our obligations as world citizens,” near the main entrance of City Hall, according to the 1971 council minutes.

The flag would be flown each day to recognize “the greatly increased interdependence of the world, in this age of nuclear power, pollution, hunger, and depletion of resources,” the minutes read.

Based on Everett's records and Betty's recollections, the city has never flown the U.N. flag.

 “I think it's in poor taste,” Betty said. “Every time we have a national holiday we put up 60 flags around here. It seems to me like that's in poor taste when they won't even put up one U.N. flag.”

Three hours into the city council meeting, Betty, 92, made her case.

She said the city hasn't kept the promise it made to its residents more than four decades ago.

“If you are world-minded and you consider yourself a world citizen, why it's just as important to put up a U.N. flag as it is important to put up an American flag,” Betty said. “We have to be world citizens because our problems are worldwide.”

The council decided to table a decision on the matter until a July meeting.

Council members Lynn Binnie, Stephanie Abbott and Patrick Singer said flying the U.N. flag daily could create controversy, adding the country's attitude towards the U.N. changed since 1971.

“Our country in general is less idealistic, as unfortunate as that may be,” Binnie said. “And while in general the American population still supports the United Nations, I believe that support is not as wide as it was in 1971.”

Binnie said he spoke to a person who was a city council member in 1971. Binnie said that person said that person would not vote in favor of the resolution today.

“The bottom line, although I personally believe the U.N. is an important organization, I don't feel it's worthwhile for us, in a sense, to promote that view as a city,” Binnie said.

Binnie proposed flying the flag on U.N. Day, which is Oct. 24, or creating a peace pole to show the city's endorsement of world peace, rather than flying the flag daily.

At the next meeting, the council will consider those alternatives and whether to amend or withdraw the 1971 resolution.

Betty was disappointed after the meeting. She said the city had a debt to pay and plans to not donate any more money to Whitewater charities until the flag is flown.

“This is ridiculous,” Betty said. “They made a promise in 1971 that they'd put it up. Well why didn't they put it up?”

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